Steve Wozniak on Apple
Monday, August 28, 1995 by Dave Winer.
If Apple was the Beatles, Steve Jobs would have been Paul McCartney. The commercializer, pop icon.
Steve Wozniak, firstname.lastname@example.org, would have been a combination of John Lennon and Ringo Starr -- a combination poet and teddy bear.
It was Jobs's garage that Apple started in, but it was Wozniak's computer.
He read my current HotWired piece and not surprisingly, Steve had comments.
Re: Apple is a Lousy Lover
I concur strongly but not wholeheartedly with your Apple comments.
Mike Markkula organized Apple as a marketing driven company. And Steve Jobs spoke out for buying the current technologies of the world and adding value by piecing them together to create complete, finished computers.
So Apple is not the company I had hoped it would be.
I always thought that a major player in the personal computer business, with their label on the products, would be composed of top engineers and multiple labs full of scientists developing new devices out of physics and chemistry. I only worked for HP and Apple. HP had lots of such labs. In fact they had chip manufacturing plants in each division around 1976, for a technological edge. HP was known inside and out as an engineering oriented company.
It seemed to me in recent years that new software diverted to the PC because of market share. You try to put the cause more on alienation of developers. Have you worked with executives of producers of major software titles who had full choice to choose which platforms to develop for? My experience tells me that they go for market share. But Apple had a lot of very dedicated fans who saw how right and good the Mac OS was, and would never switch. Extreme loyalty was perhaps Apple's strongest strength.
I feel that Apple has hurt and alienated both the loyal developers and loyal users. The developer who finds his platform and libraries and development language yanked back and forth finally gives up the loyalty. The user who buys a PowerBook full of red stickers "Ready for PowerPC upgrade" (I leave mine on) finds that the computer is dropped from Apple's line before the upgrade is even available.
You fall in love with one model of Mac and convince yourself what a great computer you have, and half a year later it's obsolete and uncertain to work with the niftiest apps of the future. Customer loyalty fades.
I think Apple lost a lot in the Microsoft lawsuit. Apple should have sued them for *not* copying the Mac as closely as possible. Had we gone to Microsoft and said "do anything the way we've already found is good, for 25 cents" the result might have been a commonality as beneficial to Apple as Microsoft. When you're comfortable with one OS because of all your skills, it's scary to change. Were the two platforms very similar, the comfort feeling wouldn't trap Mac users or PC users to their familiar machines.
John Sculley, and others, were outspoken as to the importance of Apple reaping great rewards by keeping everything proprietary, with examples of how US companies licensed away the world to the Japaneese. But the result is a totally owned and protected OS that leads to loyal users because it's hard to step out of it into an OS very different. So Mac users are trapped into Macs as long as the Mac is very different from the alternatives.
I feel most sorry that the best quality people are not solidly in the Mac camp anymore.
About me: I'm a private evangelist for the school district in Los Gatos, where I live. I had two goals in life, to be an engineer and to teach 5th grade. For several years I've been teaching computers to not only teachers but also 5th through 8th graders.
PS: Steve has a website at http://www.woz.org. Running on a Mac, of course.
PPS: A lot of people don't know that DaveNet is also a weekly column on the HotWired website at http://www.hotwired.com/davenet/. Steve was actually replying to my 8/24/95 column on HotWired, not one of the DaveNets distributed via email.
PPPS: Reporters ask if they can quote my "Worldwide Trance" piece about the Windows 95 rollout. The answer is always yes. Everything in DaveNet is on the record and for attribution. No need to ask for permission.